Satellite imagery, sensory data show 62 villages and 948 buildings targeted by arson attacks, says Human Rights Watch

Myanmar army has burnt over 60 villages and destroyed more than 900 buildings of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s western state, an international rights body said in a statement Friday.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) released new satellite imagery and sensory data showing that 62 villages and 948 buildings in Rakhine state were targeted by arson attacks between Aug. 25 and Sept. 14, 2017.

“Our field research backs what the satellite imagery has indicated - that the Burmese [Myanmar’s] military is directly responsible for the mass burning of Rohingya villages…,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of the HRW.

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“The United Nations and member countries should urgently impose measures on the Burmese government to stop these atrocities and end the forced flight of Rohingya from Burma,” he demanded.

The rights group believed that the new target of the army is Maungdaw district and its neighboring villages.

“Satellite detection of multiple active fires on September 11 and 13 suggest that villages in new areas of Maungdaw township are now being targeted for destruction.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that the Myanmar security forces' actions amount to “ethnic cleansing”.

Since Aug. 25, up to 400,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which Myanmar forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will raise the issue at the UN.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

AA